Back in February, when Brexit was still a distant absurdity, Markus Kerber, head of the Federation of German Industries, conceded that Britain might become “a super-Singapore at the gates of Europe” within a decade.
Could it happen? Every one of us who voted to ‘remain’ in the European Union must desperately hope it can. And determinedly resolve to help it happen. That’s what nation-building is about.
First, what’s the significance of what Mr Kerber said?
His organization, which is known by its German initials, BDI, represents the country’s 100,000 biggest companies including Siemens AG and Allianz SE. Mr Kerber and the BDI warned Britain against voting to leave the EU. But he admitted the possibility of renewal. And growth. “Super-Singapore” is a powerful phrase.
So how did Singapore do it? In 1965, it was a small underdeveloped, newly-independent country with few resources and little to join its population of recent immigrants.
But it leveraged what it had.
A strategic location and a natural harbor.
A shrewdly warm welcome to foreign trade and investment so much so that multinationals made it their home
Small government, which stayed scrupulously honest and fiercely efficient
All of these are possible for Britain. It really could become a “super-Singapore on the gates of Europe”.
And it doesn’t need the last bit of the Singapore mix – authoritarianism and restrictions on personal freedoms. This is the edge of Europe, after all.